Oak Lawn Committee Gets Buzzed by Starbucks and Hillwood

Hillwood's proposed 3001 Turtle Creek project

Hillwood’s proposed 3001 Turtle Creek project

Tuesday night’s Oak Lawn Committee (OLC) meeting might not have had armed police in attendance, but there were some interesting goings on.  The two worth chatting about were Hillwood’s evolving plans for 3001 Turtle Creek (corner of Turtle Creek and Cedar Springs) and a proposed Starbucks at Oak Lawn and Congress (southeast-ish corner). I call 3001 Turtle Creek “evolving” because when asked when they wanted to break ground, the reply was, “when we get a tenant.”

But, since I know my readers, let’s start with a soupçon of hypocrisy … Starbucks … and end with a humorously gutsy ask … from Hillwood.

Not being a coffee person, I don’t understand the need for yet another Starbucks a mere four blocks from the one on Rawlins and Oak Lawn Avenue which also happens to be four blocks from the one at Lemmon and Knight … hmmm, every four blocks. However, I do get their desire for a drive-thru window.  Whereas I’d walked to the meeting, many an American uses their car window as a food chute.

Yes, it’s the prettiest little Starbucks you’ve ever seen, and yes, they’ve made a lot of concessions to the neighborhood … all good. No issues there.  The hypocrisy comes from the people.

One-way entrance and exit will create a conga line of neighborhood traffic

One-way entrance and exit will create a conga line of neighborhood traffic

First, the paid representative for Starbucks is former city council member Angela Hunt, the same paid Angela Hunt who’s on “Team Downzone” battling development … a … block … away.  The talk track against Toll Brothers is in large part “traffic concerns” (or more likely The Plaza owners’ view blockage). So Hunt is A-OK with the traffic generated by an estimated 800+ cars visiting Starbucks each day but not the traffic from residents of the Toll Brothers project … a … block … away? A project that at last count had 271 units that would generate less traffic than the Starbucks she’s supporting … a … block … away.

You may be thinking that Toll Brothers impacts smaller neighborhood side streets while Starbucks is on a main drag. BUT, the latest plan … supported by Hunt and many of the same neighbors against Toll Brothers … forces Starbucks traffic through those same side streets.  How?

The only way to enter or exit Starbucks will be via a right turn. The proposed entrance/exit is too close to the intersection to allow left turns in or out.

(See map above) At Oak Lawn, Congress Avenue is misaligned, creating a jog as you cross Oak Lawn. To cram more cars into the drive-thru, there will be no Starbucks entrance on Congress (hailed by some residents).

The only “legal” entrance and exit will be east-ish, going away from I-35E towards Cedar Springs Road. Anyone wanting to legally enter or exit going towards I-35E will have to swirl through the neighborhood to enter and exit. The most likely path will be to circle the block either to the north or south of Oak Lawn.  When jittery drivers figure out that route’s congested, they’ll just start their swirl further away on other side streets … and again, the neighbors support this instead of an entrance on Congress.

The plan is to place bumps in the middle of Oak Lawn … just like the “city-titties” in front of Kroger on Cedar Springs … and five minutes standing there is all you need to know about their effectiveness. In fact, so many cars have run over the bumps to make illegal turns, they’ve been largely broken.  Between the block-circlers and bump-jumpers, the intersection will become more dangerous than it needs to be.

Let’s not forget, Starbucks in general will create more traffic than Toll Brothers … and again, this is supported by the same paid representatives and neighbors who both continue to fight Toll Brothers under the guise of traffic concerns. Can I get a “BS” on that?

Please don’t misconstrue this as a ding on Starbucks. It’s an exposure of hypocrisy and an illustration that paid opinions are exactly that. How much do you want to bet that the Downzoners use the increased traffic from Starbucks as an argument for downzoning?

Helipad ... adjoining my Santa-ready future home

Helipad … adjoining my Santa-ready future home

Perot and Hillwood: Keeping up with the Sitkorskys

I’ve written before that developers hike to the OLC to present their Christmas wish list of above-zoning wants for their new project. The Hillwood project at 3001 Turtle Creek is an elegant curtain of a building the Perots plan to construct to improve the view out the windows of their new compound across Turtle Creek.  And for this, I thank them. The only pity is they couldn’t completely shroud us all from the bland blob that is the Gallery at Turtle Creek apartments located directly in back of the proposed building. As a side note, any readers under 50 years old will likely live long enough to see that slapped-up box be torn down … and unfortunately the years of dilapidation that will precede its removal.

Anyway, the Perot wish list is relatively small and fairly common-sense concerning signature restaurants, setbacks, and parking options. The OLC pushed back for more detail on valet parking and how to keep traffic from stacking up on side streets.  No biggie, everyone pretty happy … especially with the proposed acre of landscaping on the front lawn.

…and then…

Out pops a proposal to place a helipad on the roof.  It was like watching a wonderful movie only to have the hero fart in the last scene … you’re not sure if you should laugh, which pretty much sums up the OLC’s reaction.

In Dallas, where would one go in a helicopter?  Not home.  To the airport?  A helicopter to whisk you four miles to Love Field to board your private Gulfstream 650ER? Or maybe the 40 miles to Hillwood-managed Alliance Airport?

At any rate, I can’t imagine the safety of having a VTOL in the Love Field flight path any more than I can imagine it in this largely residential area. (Although it would be one in the eye for the much unloved … and not just by me … Gallery at Turtle Creek apartments.)

Apparently, heli-commuting is the latest checkbox for the wealthy in traffic clogged cities like Los Angeles and Sao Paulo … and even then all it does is annoy everyone nearby. But Dallas traffic isn’t in the same universe as those places (in many respects.)

This request is about boys’ toys and bragging rights … and giving the OLC a chance to eye-roll … because sure as I’m sitting here, Hillwood isn’t getting a helipad any more than Santa’s dropping off my pony.

But ya know, A+ for gutsy … and keep building pretty things.

Remember:  High-rises, HOAs and renovation are my beat. But I also appreciate modern and historical architecture balanced against the YIMBY movement.  If you’re interested in hosting a Candysdirt.com Staff Meeting event, I’m your guy. In 2016, my writing was recognized with Bronze and Silver awards from the National Association of Real Estate Editors.  Have a story to tell or a marriage proposal to make?  Shoot me an email sharewithjon@candysdirt.com.

12 Comment

  • Please forward your article to Angelia for explanation of constant Starbucks traffic versus proposed traffic counts/flow at Toll development

    Possibly approve Starbucks project with DRONE delivery only. No drive thru. Although drones will need to sneak under the glide path of Southwest planes. Treacherous !

  • Everybody gets all twisted about Starbucks, but guess what? Everybody still goes to them.
    I think the bigger “issue,” if you will, is how utterly unaffordable Dallas has become. I feel like an old fogey saying this, but I long for the Dallas of 2009. I lived on Buena Vista just south of Knox. I was 26, made in the $60s, could afford rent and a few nights out on the town a week – you know – actually enjoy being young in the city. I can’t imagine anyone doing that these days.

    • No, “everybody” does not go to Starbucks. Some people do, some people don’t. Not everyone likes overpriced manufactured hipster beverages.

      The upscaling of Oak Lawn into Uptown, of old Oak Cliff into Bishop Arts, of West Dallas into Trinity Groves, of Henderson Avenue, has succeeded because there are enough people in this area who CAN afford the higher prices and the fancier retail, restaurants, and bars. Drive up McKinney Avenue any evening, and you will see thousands of people apparently enjoying being young in the city. That’s why these areas proliferate, and that’s why every one of these neighborhoods is in a constant state of flux.

    • As I said, my issue isn’t with Starbucks (and I don’t drink coffee of any stripe). The issue is the inconsistency being applied by many of the same people to two projects a block away.

      • Jon–I was replying to Bill. I think your comments are right on the mark.

        • The 90s at 00s were a great time, and how things look to us older folks just seems nuts.

          But, considering the demographics…not just the current millennial bla bla bla, but the economics of our region as one of if not the strongest in the nation for the last 20 or 30 years.

          Yes it looks like too many damn people to those of us in the “recessive” demographic group, between the “boomers” and the “echo boomers” (what the millennial were originally labeled)

          I miss the days when things were a little edgy, the run down bar, the vacant lot for parking, the cheap apartments and just a little more space for each one of us.

  • How cruel it would have been to deny Mansion Park its own Starbucks.

  • Does anybody have a photo or description of the proposed Starbucks? Sounds very suburban in design. It would be a shame to see a multilevel mixed use building and a cool restaurant space (w/patio) demolished for a drive thru Starbucks and surface parking lot. Unless they can do some sort of mixed use development I don’t think this is a plus for the neighborhood. To make it okay, it should be Starbucks and additional retail on the bottom with patios facing Oak Lawn, residential and/or office space on top (2 more floors), and parking lot in the back facing the alley. I don’t see why this is so hard for developers to understand.

    • And it would be great if they could demolish the Enterprise Rent a Car metal shed next door. It’s so unattractive and cheaply done. Dallasites MUST demand better from our developers or this crap will continue to happen. Another example is the circa 1940 art deco building housing El Corazon in Bishop Arts that is about to be demolished for a freakin’ CVS.

      • CVS has to be the biggest architecture killer in the nation! Horrible land use at just about every location….from killing the old MiCocina house in East Dallas to the new single story! land use on one of Dallas’ priciest corners Lemmon and McKinney

  • I find that a lot of times, discussions like these get skewed. We hear that an ‘X’ is going into a spot and freak out. Because we are comparing ‘X’ to something ideal, like, say, an art house movie theater or a rooftop bar with a Vespa dealership on the ground floor. When what we REALLY need to be doing is looking at what can go in there now by right, and then comparing that to ‘X’.

    As I understand it, right now, a crappy convenience store, a package liquor store, a gas station etc. can go into that space by right because of the zoning. Certain developer come along could put that it in without any zoning request change. So now is the Starbucks with a drive-thru such a bad thing? Is the developer a baddie for doing what they want to do.

    I say this because I lived in Oak Cliff and we faced a similar situation 14 years ago. Bronco Bowl went belly up and Home Depot wanted the space. Some people hated idea of a Big Box but the bottom line was it was the better of the two evils before us — another developer with a contract on the space intended to put a Mercado/International Bus Station there. We took the Home Depot and it was the better decision because it is still open and still thriving 14 years later and serving everyone in the neighborhood.

    The perfect decision? No. But we only had 2 before us. Same here it seems. Do we want a Starbucks with a drive-thru…or a package liquor store or gas station there which could be the next possibility without any need for neighborhood input.

    • mm

      You’re right, there are any number of other businesses (including apparently a bar) that are within current zoning. As I’ve said, this isn’t about Starbucks, it’s about a group of the same people being for/against developments, separated by a block, using increased traffic against one while giving traffic a pass on the other.